'Fatah officials warn of third Palestinian intifada'

Haaretz (Link) - Jack Khoury (November 21, 2009)

Fatah had made a strategic decision to declare a third intifada against Israel, movement officials told Nazereth-based newspaper Hadith Anas, citing the failed peace talks as the reason for their resolution.

The newspaper report quoted Fatah Central Committee members as saying that the movement wished to implement a decision made during its sixth convention, which assembled last August in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

One of the movement's top officials interviewed by Hadith Anas said the third intifada will have a widespread popular base, adding, however, that unlike the previous popular struggle against Israel, which was sparked in September 2000, the movement will not endorse an armed struggle or the use of firearms.

"We want thousands of Palestinians to demonstrate daily near the settlements of the occupation, carrying out a human siege, and calling for the end of the occupation," one senior official said.

According to the report, Fatah chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to the resolution in principle, stipulating only that the struggle mustn't become a violent one.

Sources estimate that Abbas could prepare the conditions which would allow for such a move by stepping down as PA President as well as by declaring the dissolution of the PA by the end of the year.

Fatah officials had commented recently on the need to duplicate the weekly anti-separation fence rallies in the villages of Na'alin and Bil'in in locations across the West Bank, as well as turning some of those demonstrations against nearby settlements.

A senior member of an Arab-Israeli Knesset party, who maintains close ties with top Fatah and PA officials, said that anti-separation fence rallies could spark renewed popular resistance, if they continued to escalate as they did week ago near the Kalandia checkpoint.

The official said that PA sources have come to understand that unarmed popular resistance, centering on symbols of the West Bank occupation, could garner sympathy for the Palestinian cause in international circles as well as embarrassing the Israeli government.

"The first intifada gained significant diplomatic ground as far as the Palestinians are concerned since its symbol, a boy throwing rocks at a tank, made it impossible for Israel to claim it was defending itself against terror as it did in the second intifada, followings the city-center bombings," the official said.